Basic Considerations in Using Testing Accommodations
Several important considerations need to be taken into account in using accommodations in testing or assessment. The accommodations (1) must be appropriate and meet the individual need of the student test taker, (2) should be used in a fair manner to all students, and (3) should not be provided in certain assessment situations. These considerations are discussed next.
Accommodations Should Be Appropriate and Individualized
Testing accommodations provided to students with disabilities or ELLs should be appropriate and meet the individual needs of these students. Depending on the disabilities or English language skills of a student, it may be suitable to make accommodations or modifications to the testing environment, administration procedures, format, and/or content of a test. For example, a Braille or large print version of a test may be used for students who are blind or have severe visual impairment. Modifications can be made to the test format to help make the test protocol less confusing to students with learning disabilities and enable them to concentrate better on the test questions. Similarly, a bilingual interpreter may be used in administering tests to ELLs. All of these, when used appropriately, allow the true ability and competency of the diverse learners to be assessed.
Testing accommodations should also be individualized in order to be effective. Each student who is labeled to have a disability or to be an ELL is unique from other students with disabilities or ELLs. Special testing accommodations need to be tailored to meet each student's unique needs. It is obvious that testing accommodations for one type of disability cannot be assumed to apply to other types of disabilities. Furthermore, accommodations suitable for one particular student with a disability cannot be assumed to apply to other students within the same disability category. For example, not all blind students would benefit from testing in Braille; not all ELLs would need an interpreter in taking a test. It is unrealistic to expect that all ELLs would require the same accommodations (Liu, Anderson, Swierzbin, & Thurlow, 1999).
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